REGGAE BEACH CLUB AT COCKLESHELL BEACH- Website:
TOUR BY LIZ PEREIRA DAY TOURS
This will be our first time in St Kitts and I found plenty of options I was interested in. We were in port from 10am-8pm and I was super excited.
Our roll call had someone that arranged a group "tour" with the main attraction being transportation to Cockleshell Beach/Reggae Beach. Since this was one of the places on my "list", I jumped right on this tour with everyone else, hoping to save some money. With this tour, they would pick you up in either an open air bus or enclosed, tour you around Basseterre and tell you a little about the history (everyone knows I don't do "tours" but this was just a little driving by it and telling you things along the way type of tour-no stopping). Then there would be a stop at the top of Timothy Hill for 10 minutes to get pictures. Then on to Reggae Beach where they would have a reserved chair, umbrella and complimentary drink waiting on you. Then it included your ride back to the port, with the options of 2 different times to leave (early and late). This was booked using PEREIRA TOURS and the cost was $15pp. It sounded like a great deal to me and we went for it.
Of course, I know just from trying to get "my group" of kids and grand-kids together on any particular cruise...is quite the challenge. Our group to Reggae consisted of about 108 people. Yikes! I really wondered how it would go and several times I felt as if I should just pull out of this group tour. I mean was it really worth saving a few bucks on a taxi ride? We'd soon see.
Our "group" was to head outside the port and meet at the Smoke & Booze building within 1/2 hour of the ship porting. We immediately walked there and didn't really see too many people standing around. We did notice another family looking for them too and someone told them to walk around the corner and over to this parking lot. We followed.
We found several "groups" divided up and they were taking peoples names and their money and marking them off. It was very unorganized and people were confused. At first they were calling names off and then you approached and paid. Then it went to just having people walk up and give their information. Then it went to forming a line (which was actually some type of circle).
We were to have both the open air buses and regular buses, which was my understanding. I know a majority of the group said they wanted open air buses. I honestly could care less as long as I got there. My only concern was if it was going to be extremely hot out, they would have wished they opted for the regular bus with a/c.
I'm not sure if everyone showed up or not because our entire group only ended up with 2 open air buses. They separated us and told us which bus to get on.
We sat there for awhile, making sure that everyone that was coming had arrived, and then we pulled out. My thoughts were if you told us to meet at the Smoke & Booze, you should probably all be there until everyone arrives. But, this was very unorganized in my option and there were probably people that went there and didn't see anyone and said screw it and left.
I "believe" we had around 28 or so people on our bus??? My count may be off, and I didn't personally count, but for some reason I'm thinking I heard this number thrown out. So if both buses had around that many people, that means quite a few either didn't show up or couldn't find us...because we were in the WRONG meeting location (at the parking lot with the buses instead of at the store where we were told to be). The rest of the group was still trying to get checked in and pay and then assigned a bus while we sat around in the heat on the open air bus waiting and waiting and waiting.
Once everyone had filled 2 buses it was time to leave. We were assigned the bright orange bus. The other group was on a green and yellow bus and they pulled out ahead of us and waited.
We started our quick "tour" of the town along the way to our destination. We all sat outside in the "bus" of course and the driver sat inside with a loud speaker and microphone to talk to us.
Something caught my eye...and no I'm not talking about my hubby...the KFC.
This guy was raising up the lobster and flashing them at us, pointing and trying to get our attention. What did he want us to do? Stop the bus and run over to buy one and run back? I sheltered Sakari's eyes and pointed in the other direction to reduce the possibility of being scared the rest of her life.
The Circus Today Basseterre's French heritage is not nearly so prominent as its British colonial past. The centerpiece of the city's evocative Georgian architecture is its Circus, a diminutive roundabout modeled in proper Victorian patriotism after Piccadilly, in London. In the middle of the Circus stands the bright green bronze of the Berkeley Memorial Clock, an ornate, cast iron tower with four clock faces and more than a little architectural decoration.
Independence Sq-the site of the slave market. These days independence Square is a very pleasant grassed park located centrally within Basseterre. There's a fountain in the centre (though not working), and eight paths radiating out in a Union Jack formation. The Square was originally known as "Pall Mall" when it was built in 1790 to hold slave auctions and council meetings.
The fountain in the middle of the square...and I seriously hate that the picture didn't turn out well, but you can look it up online and see what it really looks like. It's pretty.
The Basseterre Co-Cathedral of Immaculate Conception. I believe this was build around the 1700's I believe. I can't believe I managed to get a shot of the stained glass window, located INSIDE the church, while moving AND zoomed in. Weird. Not completely clear, but you get the picture.
Of course I always have to take pictures of the houses around the area along the way.
The local hardware and appliance store. Good to know if I ever move here I can by a fiberglass one piece pool. These things rock. We bought one back when my 3 oldest kids were little and had it installed and it was the best purchase I had ever made. We spent every minute we could in the pool during the summer, so many pool and birthday partys, lots of games we made up (me and the kids) and these types of pool are hands down the EASIEST thing to keep clean. Prior to getting one, we had an above ground and it was always turning green and I was changing the liner once a year. Never again. Man I miss my pool.
Our "other half" was following behind us.
I think they might have said this square building was the local hospital? I'm really not sure but can't think of another reason I would randomly take a picture of something that wasn't just a house or something that wasn't of interest to me.
The "Go Green" Solar Farm located in Frigate Bay area. The electric company has responsibility to operate and maintain. The goal is by 2020, 100% of the island will have electric produced by renewable energy.
There were a lot of beautiful homes in the area. Big homes.
There is a Marriott located in Frigate Bay area and it is the biggest and most expensive place on the island our driver said.
The street lights in Frigate Bay area has wind and solar lights. The street lamp is capable of producing up to 380 W of power if the sun was shining and the wind were blowing, and the street lamps save excess energy generated in a battery that powers their high efficiency LEDs through the night. (Just so you know, I have managed to look up most of this information online myself because our guide didn't mention some of this.)
We were getting ready to head into the mountains. I had no idea what "benching" meant, but would soon find out. This was about to be a fingernail biting, gut twisting, head pounding ride ahead of us.
We slowed down and the driver slammed the bus into first gear and we all had neck whiplash. From here on out, we would climb Mt Tim in first gear, sounding as if we were clanging on a roller coaster, going up the chains to the top in an ever so slow fashion. Even Thomas the train thought he could faster than this I'm sure. We were all looking at each other like "Is that all this thing has?" "Are we going to make it?" "Will we need to call for help because this guy is going to blow first gear?" I have never, in my life, ever, positively ever hear anyone run a vehicle in first gear the way this guy did. Seriously. It was almost scary.
We seen the newly built Marriott and the driver stated it was the biggest place there now.
I had no idea just how far we had to go in order to get to Cockleshell but this hill was crazy! People were going around us and giving us the stink eye. Like seriously ...EVERYONE passed us. We must have been going 5 mph if a gust of wind caught our back side.
The roads twisted and turned and I could see my life flash before my eyes. Then I started getting the stink eye from the hubby and I knew exactly what it was for wth.did.you.get.us.into?¿?
I couldn't wait to make it to the top of Timothy Hill and get out, take some pictures, and gather my throat out of my stomach.
It was pretty along the way...just scary. We were headed toward Timothy Hill. St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Large boulders block the original road over the top of Timothy Hill as the cliff above is cut back and stabilized in the first phase of a project to tackle the problem of heavy rock falls in the area. Phase One is to do benching: cut it back, and then Phase Two is to install a tunnel.
Then we get this...our other bus passing us and laughing at us. I mean they passed and took off and was out of site before long.
Construction was everywhere. Some roads were closed. Other "parts" (1 lane traffic going around a huge curve going straight down) would be blocked and plenty of construction crew in the middle of the road. You never knew what was going to be coming at you at any given moment.
Our bus had a smiley face on the side of it. I can guarantee it was probably the only thing smiling.
I really wish I would have taken the time to put my camera on the miniature setting more during this drive. I really like the way they come out...but then again, I was hanging on for dear life and it was the last thought on my mind. There was a little sign ahead that signifies there is road work ahead...as in right around that corner and the road is partially blocked with traffic from that side of the road coming at you? Eeekkkkk!!! Gasp
Even a guy in a little truck pulling a load full of kayaks is passing us!
There were some beautiful houses on the hills with a great view along the way. Lucky them.
Now I don't remember at what point in my pictures did we come to the top of Timothy Hill, but as you can see, these were all taken from the bus as we were moving along. Why you ask? BECAUSE OUR DRIVER DID NOT STOP THAT'S WHY!!! We got up to the top of Timothy Hill and we passed the other bus driver that went around us and disappeared out of site and they waved to us as we flew by them. Um seriously? You put someone like me, who strives off getting the best pictures possible of the places I visit, and you don't stop??? Unacceptable! At that point I was a little ticked. Others on the bus said "I guess our driver didn't get the memo about the 10 minute stop!" I was hoping for the best and thinking maybe he was going to stop on the way back or something.
We came to a marina that was loaded with some HUGE yachts.
We finally seen a sign that said Reggae Beach. I was so relieved. At least we had made it and would get to enjoy the day there...even if it was the last thing we got to do. Then there was another turn off...well, I thought we must be getting close. FINALLY...we arrived. The parking lot was full. According to my time stamp and watch, it was a 38 minute drive...in 1st gear.
So we arrived at Reggae and we were all safe. My heart finally stopped pounding and I was glad to be alive.
Let's take a look around first.
There was a huge covered deck for eating, although we never used it, there were plenty of people up there all the time. I made sure to follow the directions of this sign...all.day.long (RUSH SLOWLY) Everything was painted "Reggae" style and reminded me of Jamaica actually. LOL
The shack that had all your rental needs for water sports were on the premisis. We had such an awesome time renting jet skis in Bermuda last year that it's all the hubby talks about. However, the prices they charge for the little bit of time allowed is just hard to justify...especially when we own our own jet ski that has 320 hp and these don't begin to compare to that...but still a fun experience, even though we know they won't allow you to really open up the throttle in the ocean, even if you have experience. Oh well, maybe another time.
I remember when I first read up on this place, I would see all kinds of pictures of their pet hog, Wilbur. I got super excited to know that we were going to see him and Sakari would be so excited. Then after a lot of research, found that Wilbur had passed away. I took a picture of his burial ground.
Overlooking the place from standing next door wasn't too much to write home about. I'm not sure what this building was next door. I'm not sure what it use to be or was supposed to be. It looks like they never finished it.
If you are into massages and having strangers put their hands on your body...they had this service for you. (LOL, not my thing, which I'm sure everyone knows about me by now).
So once we arrived, we were told that our pick up time would be 3:30pm and to meet in the parking lot. Wait, say what? We had been told that we would have 2 pick up times. One early and one late. Of course we always take the LATE departures and want to make the most of the day. But we were not given a choice as promised. Ugh!
We were escorted in and told to pick any of the seats that said "reserved". Well, the only seats we could find that had them on it were seats in the second and third row. The first row was all taken up before we ever got there. Now I absolutely HATE not being able to be in the first row...and not for your typical reason of not wanting anyone blocking me or being by the water, but for the simple reason of I have to keep a keen watch on my munchkin. She's pretty good at obeying instructions and she knows not to go out far or over her head, but kids are kids and when they are playing with other kids, things can happen. (We were later told that a lot of the people in the front row were taken up by the construction workers).
We picked a spot that had a small opening in front of us and that's where we would decide to stay all day.
Sakari immediately morphed into a mermaid and she was off to test the waters to her new home.
I have to say that this place was PACKED! Both in the water and on the beach. Super packed.
There is an area with rocks up against one of the mountains and I assumed they would have some snorkeling. When I walked over there, I could only see rocks and decided I just probably wouldn't be exploring today and rocks were not what I wanted to see. It was our 3rd port of the cruise and it would be strike 3 of no snorkeling on this cruise for me.
When I returned to my chair, I had a new friend that hung out with me for awhile...a butterfly.
The server came around asking if we were "ok" and I had to mention "Don't we get a free drink?" He said yes and it was fruit punch. He said they were REALLY good and REALLY strong and he would bring us some. He was right. They were super strong. It would be the only drinks we had that day and we would continue to sip on our pop we brought with us in the cooler the rest of the time.
We sat there most of the day with me taking frequent dips in the water because it was scorching hot out. We got to know the people around us, which were also on our roll call, and had a great time laughing and telling stories. It always amazes me when we go places just how many other nurses are cruising with us. I guess cruising is a nurses addiction. It was even more ironic that there was a nurse a few chairs down from us that was not only from Columbus, but worked at the local hospital down the road from the hospital I worked at for many years. A lot of my classmates work there as well. It's such a small world.
Sakari always makes friends easily. With her being an actual mermaid, she always manages to have even more friends now. LOL This little boy hung out with her all day and honestly...just wouldn't leave her alone. At one point I had to rescue her because he kept taking her in his arms and holding her, walking in the water, and she would want down and he refused. She would try to "dive" off of him and he would hold on to her legs and fin. I seen her struggle a few times trying to kick her way out and he was just hanging on to her. Sigh.
This little boy was so amazed at her mermaid outfit. He kept coming up to me, various times of the day, asking me questions about her "tail". Once he ask me "Where do you get these mermaid tails?" Then he ask "Do they make them for boys?" I told him they do and they are called merman tails. Then he said "Do they make them for the black boy?" Um, I really wasn't sure what he meant by that and told him they make them for everyone and anyone who wanted to become a mermaid or merman. I ask him if he meant that he wanted a black tail. He said "Sure, do they make them in black?" I told him they did make them in black. Then he said "But I would really like to have a purple one. Do they make them in purple?" I informed him they did indeed come in purple. Then the next question was...."Do they make the bathing suit top like hers in purple for me?" Well, of course they do! He was super excited. (I might add he appeared to be one of the locals and there might be a new purple merman on the island next time we return).
They would sit for hours playing in the sand and swimming. I noticed they were doing a lot of digging and making something, but it did not appear to be a sand castle. I had to go investigate.
They had made a spot along the beach for Sakari the mermaid to sit and pose for pictures. LOL One of the kids even went and found a board and a marker and made a sign that said "Take picture with mermaid" on it. Sakari said at one point that the little boy started telling people it cost .50 per picture. Yep, I'm guessing he was a local on the island and he was learning his skills from his parents selling things along the water.
It was around 3pm and I knew we were to leave at 3:30pm. We started gathering up our things and I headed down to tell Sakari it was time to morph back into a human for our ride home to the ship. It's always a task to get this mermaid tail prepared for departure. It ends up with sand all in it that has to be washed out and then the material has to be wrung out and put away in her mermaid bag.
Well, I told Sakari it was almost time to go and I needed her mermaid tail. I went to help her step down out of it and when she went to pull it down, the little boy started helping her yank it down and Sakari was quick with her reactions and grabbed her bathing suit bottoms just in time to keep him from yanking those down too. Eeeeek! When she stepped down out of the tail, I had my hand on one side and the little boy had his hand on the other and he tried to yank it from me. I told him to let go and he said "But I really want one of these". I told him just because you want one doesn't mean you take someone else's and that was not acceptable. I pulled it from his clinching hands and started cleaning the sand out of it and several times he attempted to grab it again. What is wrong with this kid? After all this, I started thinking back to the entire day and wondering if he had tried to take it from Sakari at any point during the day because I do remember seeing her try to get away from him several times when swimming.
As we headed out, we stopped by to see the animals they had in the cages. There seemed to be a lot of cages without animals in them and they didn't look very clean.
While we were looking at the monkeys, which the cage is right close to the parking lot, a man came to us asking if we were ready to go. I informed him that we came with a group and already have our transportation, figuring that he had a cab or something. He said "Yes, it's here now". He kept trying to tell us to get on another open air bus that was out in the parking lot. I told him no, that's not the one we were on. Ours was orange and our driver specifically told us to make sure we looked for his bus to pick us up. This other person kept trying and trying and telling us to "come on, it's waiting" and at one point he told us that this was our new driver and our other driver wasn't coming. I kept playing him off. Something didn't feel right to me. We continued to play with the monkeys and ignoring him.
As we head out to the parking lot, I finally seen our bright orange bus and we headed out that way. I just knew that other guy was up to no good.
We all piled in the bus and waited for everyone else. We were all talking about our day there and we discovered a few more things while sitting there. We were informed that several people were put on the wrong bus and instead of coming to Reggae, they ended up dong a full blown island tour (I believe a 3 hour tour) and only got to spend an hour or so here at the beach. I also heard that several people arrived at Reggae and were so highly upset at the way things were going that they immediately caught a cab back to the port. I also heard that someone that supposed to be on our tour couldn't find us and decided to just grab a cab to Reggae on their own and they only paid $7 to get there, which = $14 total for the ride there and back...and we paid $15 each and thought we were getting a "deal" by booking with such a large group. Others were mad because they thought the price of this excursion included a chair and they were made to pay for them extra. There were so many complaints that my head was spinning and now I had to think about the treacherous ride back to the port and hoping that we would be stopping on the top of Mt Tim this time!
A few times it was unclear if any of "our" bus group had left Reggae and got a cab on their own back to the port. But we continued to wait and see. Others from the other bus were also gathered in the parking lot, but their bus was not there yet. Some tried to get on our bus and were told that they would have to wait for their original bus to return to avoid confusion. All of the people originally on our bus managed to be there after the head count and we were off and on our way back to the port...while the other group was left still standing in the parking lot...FOR OVER AN HOUR we were told. Some were highly upset because it caused them to miss their dinner time on the ship.
They told the other group that the other bus was going to be there shortly and they were "almost there". I guess this means we get a head start on them, running in 1st gear, and it would take them a little while to catch up with us before passing.
The owner, Liz, of the tours was standing in the parking lot and looking confused with no direction to the other people from what I was told by them.
We did at least get a little bit of entertainment on the way back when the "dad" of a family rode up front with the driver and took over the mic. He made funny announcements all the way home and kept us laughing...especially when he cracked jokes on the driver about being in first gear.
We didn't feel like we got to "Live De Life" at Reggae, but hey, it was a beach day.
This first gear crap was getting old and creeping along like this was just annoying. Why were we the only ones doing this? Do you see anyone in front of us? Well look behind us...plenty of pissed off drivers that would take every opportunity to go around us on these winding, hilly, drop off the side of the mountain hills. The weird thing is, this guy was so slow with his driving, but once we made it to the top of the hill, I would have thought he would have used his brakes a little more than he did. At times I almost wished he would slow down going around the corners.
I guess the picture below is as close to getting a picture of the Atlantic and the Caribbean oceans because our driver didn't stop on the way back either. Sigh!
For those wondering what Timothy Hill Lookout at St. Kitts island is, it overlooks where the Caribbean Sea on the right and the Atlantic Ocean on the left meet together.
We got back to the little town of Frigate Bay and we passed the other open air bus for the other group that was still waiting at Reggae to be picked up. Oh my goodness! They said they were almost there when we left...my arse! They still had to go up and down Mt Timmy to get there! When we got back the other group said they had waited over a hour for their bus to get there! They were a little hot about it and the owner could only say "with so many ships in port, the buses were stuck in traffic". This is a tour company, who transports cruise passengers every time their are ships in port, you SHOULD KNOW how traffic gets on those days and account for it by leaving early. This is your job! I mean for some reason our driver didn't have this issue.
We passed a golf course. Then a bunch of bikers on a tour excursion. Whew, they wore me out just watching them. I can't even imagine cycling around some of these hills.
I managed to get more of the "go green" place on the way back too.
Then we could finally see the ship in the distance.
Once you get closer to town, the houses get smaller. And the buildings get a little more "ghetto" looking.
We made it back to the port in one piece and I was thankful for that. It was now 4:30pm and it took us 26 minutes to get back...with ALL THAT TRAFFIC and all you know.
We thought St Kitts was beautiful. We had a decent time, not the best, but decent. I mean any day at the beach is a good day for us, even with little bumps along the way. It could have been worse (we could have been on the other bus instead). I did learn my lesson and I think from now on I will be sticking to doing things on my own, even if it means paying a little more (although it wasn't in this case, it would have been cheaper). The advantages to doing it on your own is that you have a private driver (or at least a smaller group), you can leave the port right away...which means you get more time at the beach. You arrive sooner than a huge group and probably have a better choice of a place to sit. Then of course you don't have to worry about waiting for a crowd, head count and so on, for the return trip home. Yep, I think I will not worry too much about the cost from now on and just do it myself (well unless there's REALLY a big difference, then I would have to think twice about it).
I probably will never return back to Reggae. It was ok and to me, just a typical beach bar area, nothing special, no wow factors and nothing that would really bring me back here. I would definitely pick another place next time. The service wasn't the greatest (I mean after all, we had to ask for our free drinks and they never once came around to check on us and see if we wanted or needed anything). I really didn't care for how crowded it was and the chairs were right up on each other, making it kind of uncomfortble when you can't talk without the neighbors hearing everything you say. Although we did manage to get to know some of the people in the huge group we came with, so I guess that was a plus. The other thing was the vendor selling CD's that he burned himself. I mean come on, anyone can burn a CD these days and it's free!! Then the fact that he wouldn't take no for an answer and would return over and over again. The beach itself wasn't that pretty and the chairs were lined up right at the water making it not a great place to "go down" to the water and sit along the beach because that meant you were sitting right in front of someone in a chair. The animal pens looked disqusting and I have no idea where most of them were.
Using Liz Pereira tours: NEVER again and I would NEVER recommend them. The mass confusion that day was just rediculous. Our cruise "leader" that put this together had made a list and everything was done for her and she (Liz) still managed to screw things up. She was very unprofessional from the start to finish. When you're told to meet somewhere, you should probably have someone there to meet the cruisers as instructed. You should have better organization. She knew EVERYONE from our large group was going to the beach but yet put some people on the wrong bus that went somewhere else THEN blammed it on the cruisers like they should have known. How would they known? That's her job! Then the mass confusion and the second bus not showing up to pick everyone up, using the excuse that there was traffic? How did the first bus manage to get there with no problems? You should account for traffic! That's your job! Then to lie saying their bus was almost there and we passed that bus all the way back in town!! She took no responsibility for any of this and our cruise leader had to approach her to get the money returned to the people that were put on the wrong bus and never made it to the beach with the rest of us. Her comment "well they got a more expensive tour"....THEY DIDN'T WANT A TOUR!!! THEY WANTED TO GO TO THE BEACH! The other thing was we were supposed to get a 10 minute stop at the top of Timothy Hill for pictures and we didn't get that. Another thing, there was not 2 different times to leave as there was supposed to be. They told us we were all leaving at the same time and when to be ready.
Just so much disorganization. Never again. There was a lot of pissed off cruisers!
After posting a review on trip advisor, I received several messages from Reggae beach that I thought was very unprofessional. They questioned my review stating that I "posted months after returning" and said "I guess you can't please everyone". I'm not a hard person to please, but I felt their place and Pereira tours was very unprofessional. I posted months later because I was on another cruise the month after this one.
A second message was sent to me, once again, defending Pereira tous (because they recommend using them to everyone) and stated that the driver stated everyone was "doing the island tour and beach." Our people did not know the difference because ours was called the city tour and beach...sounds about the same and they did not know the "terminiology" used for the tour. Reggae stated that "To me that sounds like the passengers fault." If we are in a group that was booked months in advance with Liz herself being on our cruise facebook page with communication daily, why on earth would you put anyone on a different tour bus when we all had booked the same thing??? Does this make sense?
A third message blamed the "staff not being friendly" due to "it being extremely busy that day". Once again, they brought up "it's the passengers responsibility to make sure you are on the right tour". NO it's not, they were in a group with everyone doing the same thing, why would they question being put on any bus? Then Reggae mentioned that Liz gave those people a full refund and mentioned "Most tour operators that we deal with won't if it's not their fault." She had no intention on giving a refund...our cruise leader that organized this with Liz went to Liz to tell them they deserved a refund and had words with her in order to get it back. Otherwise it would have never happened. AND IT IS THEIR FAULT!
ONCE AGAIN, at this point I would NOT recommend Pereira tours for the things that happened that day. I also WOULD NOT recommend Reggae beach due to their unprofessionalism in their correspondance to me on my Trip Advisor review. I also must mention that I DID not answer them back after the first time and they are the ones that kept messaging me over and over with more to say. I wonder if they harrass all of the people that might leave bad feedback for a tour guide NOT their beach? Makes you wonder.